Debate: Sexual violence and its impact on the World of Work | Western Cape Government


Debate: Sexual violence and its impact on the World of Work

24 August 2017

Debate: Sexual violence and its impact on the world of work 
 The economic impact of violence against women.

Premier Helen Zille

Deputy Speaker


Members of the media

Our visitors in the gallery

Madam Speaker, thank you for sponsoring such an important topic.

The violence against women is a violation of human rights and a disgrace to the whole of humanity.

Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 OF 2007 states that Sexual violation is

(b) Where there is an abuse of power or authority by A to the extent that B is

inhibited from indicating his or her unwillingness or resistance to the sexual

act, or unwillingness to participate in such a sexual act.


Chapter 2 Section 12 of the Constitution sates that (1) Everyone has the right to freedom and security of the person, which includes the right— (a) to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources.  As the state we have a responsibility to uphold these rights and ensure that they are indeed upheld by the public.

The International Human Rights instruments make it clear that all forms of violence against women are protected.


S.A. ratified all these human rights charters and instruments.

- The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women

- UN Declaration on Violence against Women

- International conference on Population and Development (Cairo)

- Fourth World Conference on Women

- World Health Assembly resolution on violence as a public health priority

- Global Programme to prevent Violence against Women and Girls’

The S.A. government introduced laws such as the Domestic violence Act of 1998 to provide for the issuing of protection orders with regard to domestic violence; and for matters connected therewith. The Domestic violence Act is a direct response to this scourge, yet we don’t see much improvement. 

I would like to reflect on statistics of sexual violence, without dwelling much on the other forms of violence i.e. psychological and physical. In the Western Cape we have 6 Thuthuzela Care Centers and we are working on having another one in Paarl hospital.

The Thuthuzela Care Centre initiative is a joint effort between the NPA and the Department of Health. The reported matters at the six sites for the year 2016/2017 are 5078 out of the 32 786 cases for the whole of South Africa.

The Thuthuzela Care Centres act as a one stop shop for the victim to report the case and for the NPA and the Department of Health clinicians to collect the necessary evidence.

Deputy speaker, one rape incident is too many hence I do not want to dwell much on statistics. Behind the number lies a human face, a daughter, a child, a mother, a sister, and someone’s grandmother.

Today, I would like to put a face on the ‘word’ victim and the perpetrator. Do we really know what are the driving forces behind the behavior of these perpetrators which are mostly men? The road to sexual violence: Who is the victim? Who is the perpetrator? How this impact on all of us as the state? How can we assist?

Firstly, I would like to highlight that rape is not sex. It is a form of weapon used against the victim. Sexual violence does not discriminate, it knows no colour, age or class it affects all people from rich to poor; from the illiterate to the well-educated.  

Intimate partner and sexual violence are the most common forms of violence experienced by women. Research shows that one in three women will experience such across the world.

Driving forces and risk factors

What are the driving forces behind these senseless crimes?  What perpetuates these? Where is the genesis of this road?

They range from

  • Poverty,
  • Gender inequality
  • Social norms
  • Substance abuse


Because of poverty we see women having to turn into prostitution to earn an income. Young girls are forced into marriage with older men because of poverty.

Transactional sex between older men and young girls is yet another result of poverty where young girls do not have the power to say no to these men because of what they are getting from these men.

This therefore links to the high unemployment rate in South Africa which sits at 27.7% in the first quarter of 2017.

Gender inequality

We live in a patriarchal oriented society. South Africa is still far behind in terms of gender equality. Reports shows that 40% of men in South Africa beat up their partners. Women continue to stay in these relationships and might not have the power to consent to sex.

Social norms

There are some who still believe that a woman belong in the kitchen and a married one is meant to stay at home and raise the children. Other social norms relating to the depredatory of women is the fact when one gets married they are told to persevere on marriage no matter what. Whatever comes their way they should never consider going back home?

Substance abuse

We live in a dysfunctional society where substance abuse has become the norm among our youth.

We have heard of stories where young boys as young as 15 raping their school mates as some form of an initiation.


The perpetrator was once a male child, who experienced violence in childhood, harsh physical punishment, some witnessed parental violence, they too experienced abuse and has led to psychological dysfunction resulting in adult attachment issues and deviant-­social behavior. 



When sexual violence occurs there is a high risk of getting infected with HIV, STIs, unwanted pregnancy, depression and emotional trauma.


Emotional scars remain a part of the victim for the rest of their lives. That may lead to days of work or school being missed because of the trauma. A difference in a victim’s behavior may change as some may use aggression as a defense mechanism.


Sexual violence directly affects the health services as the victims must undergo tests and the collection of evidence in our facilities.

The Western Cape is already faced with a growing population and a complex disease profile, where people present with comorbidities leading to service pressures in our facilities.

As the Department we have also introduced remedies to fight the scourge of violence against women and young girls through the Young Women and Girls Project. We have not left the men behind, the perpetrators of sexual violence against women and children.

That is why we have recently introduced the Men’s dialogue – Masisebenzisane Madoda.

Our overall aim is to

  • Address gender power,
  • Address gender distorted norms,
  • Promote the uptake of men’s reproductive health services and;
  • Discourage intergenerational relationships.

Deputy Speaker, when dealing with sexual violence against women and children we cannot afford to scratch the surface, we ought to look deeper and first deal with the root cause of the problem. Do we have proper rehabilitation resources for the perpetrators? What makes us think that after they have served the time incarcerated they would come back into society rehabilitated and changed?

Sexual abuse against children is increasing and is the most traumatic. Madam Speaker, a key pattern throughout these cases is that the alleged perpetrators were known or trusted by the victim or the family.

Some are even boyfriends or husbands of the mothers and some mothers usually know about these crimes committed against their children but remain silent. Socio-economic factors play a major role. Unemployment, poverty, low level of education are some of the major causes for the mothers to keep quiet.

In conclusion, sexual violence against women has been on the agenda for quite some time.

Families must do their part, society must do its part, government must do its part, civil organizations, traditional and religious leaders must partake in this conversation.

Enough is enough!

Thank you

Media Enquiries: 

Spokesperson to the Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo
Mobile: 078 0534451
Tel: 021 483 5862
Western Cape Government: Health